GROVE, Okla. — Forget the candy and chips.

Grove students who fed upon books at the school’s vending machine for the past two years learned their hunger for reading has netted the innovative reading at the Grove Upper Elementary program $1,000.

The Get Books, Not Twix! Book Vending Machine was sponsored by the Grove Education Foundation for Excellence and selected as a 2021 Outstanding Program Awards for Oklahoma School Foundations.

“We are honoring these programs for their creativity and the positive impact they have in supporting academic excellence in their communities,” said Katy Leffel, director of the Oklahoma School Foundations Network.

Photograph provided. Landon Strum, a Grove Upper Elementary School student, proudly displays a book he purchased with a golden token from the school’s new book vending machine. The vending machine program, sponsored by the Grove Education Foundation for Excellence, has been selected for a 2021 Outstanding Program Award for Oklahoma School Foundations presented by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and its Oklahoma School Foundations Network.

The repurposed vending machine cost $5,000 and takes tokens, which are earned by the students for good behavior, going above and beyond in their academics, showing good character traits, completing reading goals and helping each other.  Students are allowed to keep the book and take it home and read it again.

“The book vending machine brings new excitement to reading!” said Charla Matthews, Grove Upper Elementary Principal. “Our students, no matter their academic level or socioeconomic status, are excited to earn a coin. They love to choose a book of their own and to receive it in a way that is fun.”

It’s an amazing tool for both our positive behavior plan and our schoolwide literacy initiative, she said.  Students choose the book they want based on interest, regardless of reading level, Matthews said.

Three Oklahoma schools will present a free webinar on Oct. 27 to share their ideas so other school foundations might emulate or adapt these programs in their own school districts.